Last week in tech: Listen to our new podcast
Check out some fancy new cars, Samsung's new TVs, and our experimental podcast.
Philips Hue Outdoor Lights
Keeping up with tech news is hard. New products show up, big companies make sweeping announcements, and Elon Musk casually mentions his latest insane ideas on a weekly basis. That’s why we do these weekly wrap-ups. Now, however, we have expanded this helpful content into a podcast called Last Week in Tech. Please check out the first episode on SoundCloud or iTunes. Our boss said if we were going to sit around arguing about technology all the time, we had to “make it into content” because it’s our job or whatever, so it would really help us out.
It’s an experimental project for now, but it gives us, the PopSci tech team, a chance to dig deeper into the most important, interesting, or just entertaining stuff from the tech world. In the future, you can count on improved audio quality, more spirited discourse, and me continuously trying to coin catch phrases.
Now, on to the stories.
Philips now makes Hue lights for outside
Philips Hue Outdoor Lights
Connected light bulbs are often one of the first steps folks take into the realm of smart home devices. Now, Philips is expanding its popular line of Hue lights into people’s yards. The new outdoor lights work on the same platform as the typical Hue lightbulbs, and models include spotlights, wall-mounted fixtures, and illuminated pillars to line walkways. You can control them with Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, and the new products include both white and colored lights. So, if you want to trick your neighbors into thinking a UFO is landing in your yard, this is your chance.
Amazon’s Alexa started laughing randomly, but Amazon fixed it
If your Amazon Echo devices started cackling for no reason last week, then you weren’t alone. Amazon officially addressed the issue and changed Alexa’s laugh, as well as the prompt required to evoke it. Many people wondered why Alexa needed to laugh in the first place, so we asked an expert.
Lots of weird new cars showed up in Switzerland
Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro track
The Geneva Auto Show is happening right now in Switzerland, but most of the new rides have already been announced. You can check out our round-up of the notable announcements here, including some truly impressive stuff from Aston Martin, as well as a vehicle referred to as a “self-driving living room.”
Some Penguins found a camera and it was adorable
You can achieve some truly magical things if you leave a running camera near some interesting wildlife. The latest example of this phenomenon comes from the Australian Antarctic Division. The video shows a couple emperor penguins investigating the camera and creating a video that’s equal parts fascinating and adorable. Watch the video here.
Elon Musk said some cryptic stuff about Hyperloop
Better video coming soon, but it would look a bit like this: pic.twitter.com/C0iJPi8b4U— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2018
Remember when Elon Musk said his underground tunnels would whoosh cars around on subterranean skates? Well, plans have apparently changed, as Elon says the Boring Company will concentrate on moving people instead of their vehicles. That might change again, of course, and we’ll probably all find out about it via Twitter.
An Apple patent shows potential for an improved keyboard
Apple keyboard patent
The keyboards on the latest model MacBook Pro haven’t garnered much love from users or reviewers because of their flat nature, lack of space between the keys, and their propensity to jam up when debris like crumbs gets inside. A newly-public patent, however, shows Apple’s plan for keeping junk out of the sensitive underside, which would allow the butterfly switches to flap freely. We don’t know if this will ever see real life.
Smash Bros. is coming to Nintendo Switch this year
Nintendo recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the excellent Switch console. As part of the celebration, the company released a teaser for the upcoming Smash Bros. title. The teaser focuses on a pair of characters from Nintendo’s popular Splatoon franchise, who will presumably join the cast of the game. Now might be a good time to buy a rugged case for your Switch controllers in case you throw them down in frustration after a tough match.
Samsung announced its new TVs as a part of your smart home
Samsung QLED TV Ambient Mode
TV announcements can be droll and boring, but Samsung tried its best to spice up the unveiling of its 2018 QLED TVs. One of the biggest new additions is Ambient Mode, which turns your television into a huge smart screen that displays things like weather and headlines from the New York Times. The new sets also got support for Samsung’s smart assistant, Bixby, and integration into the SmartThings connected device platform. Samsung is slowly but surely building a foundation for a cohesive smart home, which is great if you love giant screens in every room of your house (we do).
Leica made an all-black camera that I want, but can’t afford
Leica special edition camera
For those who are unfamiliar, Leica is a renowned camera company with a history of making insanely limited special edition models. Its latest is an all-black version of its Leica M Monochrom, which only shoots black-and-white digital photos. The camera is a collaboration with fashion company rag & bone, and it’s almost entirely black, except for a few markings on the lens and body, which glow in the dark. It’s wildly impractical in a variety of ways, including its run of just 125 and its $15,750 price. It sure is pretty, though.